If you like your music smooth, relaxing and somewhere safely in the background, then maybe Ed Bennett’s output isn’t your cup of tea; if, however, should an adventurous streak be part of your musical makeup then do give the loud, aggressive and mechanical ten-minute Freefalling (for orchestra) a go … if you respond favourably, I do, then the rest of this stimulating NMC release will prove a challenge worth taking.
Maybe best to take each of the five works here in isolation rather than as a play-through experience, for the Bangor-born Bennett (in 1975) seems to prefer big, juicy and assaultive sounds and to propel them with maximum-intensity force, occasionally tempering them with ambient sounds – such as rain falling, which forms the background of the second movement of the half-hour Song of the Books (for cello and ensemble) – and I guess he is, to some extent, a minimalist (listening to Freefalling I likened it to “Boléro gone bonkers”).
This generous seventy-eight-minute issue includes the album’s signature piece, Psychedelia, eighteen minutes of ear-grabbing invention – long-held chords, dynamic waves of sound, thunder-rolls, climactic/cataclysmic percussion (building-site activity) – whereas Organ Grinder, once again opening with a wake-up call and parading much that is dramatic (not that the previous works haven’t been), seems a worthy successor.
Indeed these four pieces so far could be one, for they follow naturally while also suggesting certain compositional limitations on Bennett’s part, save up comes Magnetic, for bass clarinet with prepared piano – which proves to be rather gentle, musing and curiously attractive.
Various soloists and groups (one of the latter is named Decibel; apt) have signed up for this intriguing collection; they give their all and the spotlit recordings do not miss a trick. NMC D257.